Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

one student practicing getting another student out of a hospital bed Durham Technical Community College offers a two-year associate’s degree program to train occupational therapy assistants in the Triangle area. The curriculum prepares graduates to work under the guidance and supervision of a registered occupational therapist (OTR/L). Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs) help registered therapists in all aspects of occupational therapy from screening and assessment to treatment and documentation.

OT is a rehabilitation profession that focuses on doing and action. OT professionals work with people to improve their ability to participate in work, leisure, and self-care activities. They work with all age groups in a wide variety of settings. Children are assisted with school and play skills. Adolescents are assisted with prevocational and social skills. Adults are assisted in recovering from injuries or helping them cope with long-term illnesses or disabilities. Older adults are assisted in regaining skills or making changes in their homes for safer or more independent living situations. OT personnel work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, nursing homes, community settings, home health agencies, psychiatric and mental health centers, hand therapy sites, and other health care settings.

Treatment may be conducted in individual or group sessions. Activities that are personally meaningful are also used to assist clients in meeting their goals. OT personnel must be flexible, empathetic, organized, and creative to provide clients with the best opportunities to progress and achieve what is important to them.

The OTA program has a limited number of spaces for admission each year and there are additional admission steps that must be completed after applying to the college. Acceptance for admission is conducted on a first-come, first-served basis after admission requirements are met. Courses are offered in a sequential order, starting once each year. All eligible students may take non-OTA prefix courses as soon as they complete college admission requirements for curriculum students. Students may elect to complete the program on an extended part-time basis, with faculty consultation; however, full-time clinical internships are a critical part of the OTA training program and must be completed within 18 months of other class work to successfully complete the program. Clinical sites are spread throughout the region, and reliable transportation is essential.

Students must achieve a minimum grade of C in all courses on the plan of study in order to progress in the OTA program. Students who fail to make the required grade of C in any curriculum course will need to meet with the program director for academic counseling and advising before continuing in the program. Students may take OTA courses a maximum of two times; if they are unable to achieve a C on the second attempt in the same course, they will not be able to complete the program.

After completing the curriculum plan of study, the student is awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.

ota graduates Graduates of the program will be will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states, including North Carolina, require licensure to practice as a COTA; licensure in North Carolina is based on results of the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. These processes are separate from the college’s program and graduation requirements. Students are encouraged to contact the North Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy (NCBOT, www.ncbot.org) and the NBCOT (www.nbcot.org) directly for additional information.

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.

If you have any questions or want further information about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program attend an information session or email Susan Cheng. You may also visit the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) at http://www.aota.org and North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association (NCOTA) at http://www.ncota.org.